2018 SD Legislative Sessions – Dan Ahlers Week 6 Update

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. This week, I will provide an update on bills pertaining to the initiated measures, referendums and rural healthcare as well as an update on the Appropriation budget hearings.

HB 1282 would require any ballot question receiving more than $10,000 in out of state contributions to include a disclaimer stating it is paid for in part by out of state interests. At first, this bill seemed reasonable, but it became clear the intent was to single out certain ballot measures. The bill did pass out of the House 49-16 and will be debated in the Senate.

HB 1216 would limit out of state contributions by out of state entities to $100,000. Limits on contributions by PACs and other special interests have been adjudicated numerous times. Each time limits like these have been imposed the Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional on the basis that you cannot limit freedom of speech. This bill passed the House by a vote of 42-24. Ironically, the sponsors of this bill have asked an out of state entity to help finance a ballot measure to fix problems with Marcy’s Law. The amount of funding needed for this type of statewide campaign will exceed the $100,000 limit proposed in this bill.

HB 1201 will be require any initiated, referred or constitutional ballot measure to include the name, address and compensation for a petition circulator. Opposition to this bill fears a requirement to include personal information like a petitioner’s address could lead to acts of violence. This bill will be heard on the House floor this week.

Workforce development has been a reoccurring theme this session. This week we will vote SB 31 which reimburses $832,972 to doctors and other healthcare professionals that serve in rural South Dakota communities. The Recruitment Assistance Program is designed to assist rural communities recruit physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. Participants must agree to practice in the community for three years. The Rural Healthcare Facility Recruitment Assistance Program is designed to assist hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities retain healthcare professionals. Eligible professions receive an incentive payment of $10,000 upon completion of a three year commitment. Participating facilities are required to pay a portion of the incentive payment based on community size.

In Appropriations, we heard SB 91 which provides funding to establish a state veterans cemetery in Sioux Falls. The land will be donated by Sioux Falls and various veterans organizations have raised $100,000 to put in an endowment to help pay for ongoing costs. The funding request from the state is $600,000 which would be reimbursed by the federal government upon completion of the cemetery. A last minute amendment has threatened to derail the efforts of our veterans. This amendment would require 9.4 million dollars in the endowment before the application process could begin. Currently, South Dakota is in a race for this cemetery with Minnesota. If we do not apply by July 1st, Minnesota will most likely get the cemetery grant and South Dakota would not be eligible due to the proximity of Minnesota’s proposed cemetery location east of Brookings. This amount is more than what would be necessary to annually maintain the cemetery. Annual costs for this cemetery would be $261,000. While the governor has denied this amendment comes from his office, they will not support the bill without this amendment.   Hearings for this bill will continue this week. I encourage readers to voice their support by contacting the governor’s office and emailing members of the appropriations committee.

It will be important to hear from you during session. I would appreciate your input on any issue or concern. You may email me at dan.ahlers@sdlegislature.gov.

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